Securing On The Small

I still keep on opening and closing my car. It’s easy, I have a small remote for it, just like almost everybody nowadays. But what for? I came to think of it today. I don’t have anything of value in it, my radio is probably worth $20 and the only other significant valuable is a pack of chewing gum. So why do I close my car? Hell, because that’s what everybody does. It would be pretty stupid to get a window broken because some stupid guy was short of chewing-gums though.

I’ve also been thinking about convertibles. These cars are almost always open and it’s not really a problem. So why do I still close my car? Well, as I said, the functionality is there and it’s pretty harmless. Harmless? I’m not really a specialist about car parts but a security system closing four doors plus the trunk, locking and unlocking working both with a small remote and a pretty complex key must not be cheap. I would say a grand, maybe two.

What do I care most about here, the car itself or the pack of chewing-gum? Wouldn’t these couple of thousand dollars be best spent securing the car ignition instead of the whole car cockpit? Security is all about money, if there’s a quick and cheap way to steal something of value then it’s going to be a very popular stealing item. You just have to make the stealing price high enough so that it’s not worth stealing anymore. Another thing to consider is what you want to make secure. It’s fairly easy to make a small ignition system attack-proof, the car cockpit is another story and the obvious weak points are windows. Roughly, the bigger, the harder.

So I think I would be much better off with a car that doesn’t close.

Securing software is pretty much the same thing. I’ve been working for companies spending large amounts of money to implement senseless security procedures. Forcing the usage of different protocols on both sides of a DMZ. Not opening firewalls for perfectly valid communications, pushing the generalization of SOAP/HTTP (which brings its own pains). Securing on the large instead of securing on the small.

In security maybe more than anywhere else, one size fits all doesn’t work. Secure only where it makes sense and do it on the small.

Picture by ac_jalali

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6 comments so far

  1. Martin Smith on

    So you would like a car that doesn’t lock so that on the rare occasion that you have something of value in it you cannot lock it.

    Real smart.

  2. mriou on

    I unfortunately live in a place (SF) where you can’t leave anything of value inside your car (GPS, laptop, …) because it’s the surest way to get a window broken and your stuff stolen anyway. So this rare occasion doesn’t exist.

  3. assaf on

    First incident, I left the root open (convertible) on a busy street in daylight. Someone went through the glove compartment, took nothing of value, no damage. Only such incident, surprising since I rarely lock the car.

    Second incident, I left the door open parked in the garage. I never lock for a reason. Someone broke into the garage and a few of the cars, went through glove compartment, took nothing of value, no damage.

    Third incident, locked car standing in lighted and busy intersection. Someone tore through the roof, broke the trunk latch and stole my laundry detergant! (and a few other invaluables)

    Is there a lesson here? Not really. It’s all a matter of chance and probability. But the $50 of lost goods are easily replaced by a short trip to Target. The collateral damage — roof, windows, latches — are a pain in the behind to deal with.

  4. mriou on

    I have another one in the same vein.

    I used to never close my car. After leaving it for a while beside a train station I received a notice from the police asking whether my car had been stolen or not. To avoid the hassle of explaining them I decided to start closing it.

    Couple of weeks later someone tried to bend the whole door outward to get an inside access. Didn’t succeed in getting inside (where there wasn’t anything) but succeeded in doing a nice mess of the door. Which turned out to be a bit pricey to fix.

    So I’m a bit like you, the damages done to the car quickly get much more expensive that whatever can be inside.

  5. Geoffrey Wiseman on

    My father’s experience parking for years in a neighbourhood that had a fair amount of car break-ins was this: He didn’t ever lock the door. The car was broken into twice. Both times, the window was smashed — the thief didn’t attempt to open the door before smashing it.

  6. John Barone on

    Maybe you just live in a crappy city.


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